101: An intro to WitchCraft

So, I wanted to start off with some information. I find that a lot of pagan sites have a lot of spells, but very few really explore the possibilities, philosophies, and theologies of Paganism, Wicca, ect.

I know that everyone is on a different path, but I want to start by showing you lessons from the teacher who helped me to find mine.  If I can even help one person discover something about themselves or their path, then I’ve accomplished something in this lifetime.

Normally, for a post like this I would cite the title of the book and the author who wrote it. However, I don’t own the book and the teacher who printed out the chapters as part of our lessons passed through the veil at the end of this last year.  It is in her honor that I pass on this knowledge.

Still, I would greatly appreciate it if anyone recognizes the book so I can both attribute it to the lessons I’ll post here and so I can buy more of his or her books. Thanks.

So lets start with some simple concepts.

What is Witchcraft?

To put it simply Witchcraft is an ancient nature oriented religion. It is estimated to be over 20,000 years old, going all the way back to neolithic times. It is a religion that honors the “Old Gods”, that is pre-Christian deities such as Freya, Medusa (Yes she was originally an African triple Goddess), the Green man, and Zeus. It is a religion that protects and cherishes the Earth and all of its inhabitants as much as possible.  Followers of the craft celebrate the seasons of the year in rituals called Sabbats, which represent the love of the God and Goddess, the cycle of life, sacrifice, and rebirth.

What Witchcraft is Not?

Here’s where we dispel a number of rumors about the craft.  Some of it is fiction and some of the following is simply vicious rumor spread by those afraid of what they do not understand.

1. Witches are NOT devil worshipers and never were, nor will they ever be.  This myth came from fear instilled into the populace by a church seeking power.  As much respect as I have for Christianity, some of the leaders of the medieval church were far from scrupulous. They wanted everyone to follow their religion and no other. But that is a whole other can of worms that I will get to in another post.

2. It’s not a way to fix every problem in your life. Yes, you can use it to better yourself and the world around you, but you can’t just use it to overcome every single obstacle you face in life. If that were the case, how would we ever learn.

3. Witchcraft is not about orgies. There are some groups that practice sexual rituals and events, but they are as my teacher put it, “not the reason for the season” so to speak.  Any group that uses such tactics is not inherently evil or wrong. On the other hand, it is just fine to be a part of a group that doesn’t do those things. I know I (and many other pagans I know) would not be comfortable in those situations and that’s fine.

4. Real witches do not use magick to harm or kill others.  Death spells are best left to Hollywood.  Regardless, self respecting witches wouldn’t touch anything that comes close to that.

5. Witchcraft is not about creative drug use. While there are groups (some Druid practices some to mind) that might occasionally participate in drug use, it’s not a prerequisite to participate in witchcraft.  Most pagans realize that entering a magickal environment realize that depending on the goal and purpose of the ritual or event, such participation could have disastrous effects.  To Note: This is another practice I would not personally ever be comfortable participating in or endorse.

What to avoid in a group or coven

I put this here because I have watched several people get hurt as they search for a group to place their trust in. So here are a few red flags to avoid. I feel that they should mostly be common sense, but here they are:

1. Avoid coven leaders who try to entice or coherce you against your will. This would include anyone who might use sex as a come on. Creeps and jerks are everywhere. This includes any leader who would use hypnosis or subliminal manipulation to achieve their own agenda.

2. Avoid any group that uses physical punishment or abuse.

3. Avoid a group that requires recreational drug use to participate.

4. Avoid leaders who are deceptive or vague about their training and knowledge. Generally these people are power hungry and looking for more people to control.  Also, watch out for what my teacher called “Imaginary grandmothers” (This refers to people who pretend they have been in a family of witches that goes back generations.” While there are families that have been generational witches, not everyone who says they belong to one is being honest.

5. Avoid covens that proselytize. We don’t go door to door or try to pressure people into our path. If it’s meant to be they will find their way into the fold in their own way and in their own time.

6. Avoid leaders who charge you to train in a coven. The only exception here may be organized high magick groups like Alexandrian or Gardinarian magick, but there you are mostly paying to be a part of an organization and not for the training itself.  The only time you should have to pay a teacher is if they ask you to reimburse them for the supplies they bring to your class.  This includes avoiding leaders who live off coven funds.

7. Avoid groups who spend more time discussing politics and bickering than celebrating the Goddess.

To essentially sum it up. You know the saying If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck? Well this is a good place to apply it. If it looks, smells or feels like a cult it may be.

What is a spell?

My lesson book described a spell as kind of an “interactive prayer”. They are neither good nor bad in and of themselves. Intent is important here and something that I will touch on in greater detail later. But to keep it simple, a spell is only bad if you intend to inflict harm. It’s like a chair. It isn’t bad if you’re sitting it, but it can be used negatively to bash someone over the head (not something I recommend or endorse).

So, now that we generally know what Witchcraft is, lets take a look at who’s who and what’s what

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